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A letter from Otto Frank

by Maureen Glaude

In November of l968
the envelope arrived at my door
its Amsterdam stamp sending me
scream-running to tell my parents.

Though in disbelief
I knew its origin
must be Mr. Otto Frank.

Amazement grew as I discovered
a letter personally typed
(with some welcome strike overs that told me
it was done not by a secretary but his own hand)
and composed specifically for me, by him
nothing form about it
no standard issue from his office
or The Anne Frank Foundation
he and his second wife had created
for his late daughter.

A month earlier I’d written to him
moved by my first reading
of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.
At fourteen, close to the age
of the tragic heroine
who inspired me to diaries, writing,
so much more...I was compelled
to reach out to him.

My mother must have found
an address where he accepted mail
about Anne's (and the world’s) tragic story
I don’t remember now.
Nor do I have my initial letter,
but that’s not the important one.

Like a caring elder, he gave gentle advice
on my confessed dreams
of the trials of writing and acting
and even my goal to play Anne on stage
though a blonde, Protestant
Canadian schoolgirl
I’d be playing against type
but graciously he didn’t point that out.

Mr. Frank updated me on his re-marriage,
his work, and in his words
the spirit of resilience for life shone
showing me where his daughter's had been born.

I’ve only shared the letter

with my family and close friends
and teachers of my children
it’s been tucked it away in my hope chest
all these years
and lately I’ve decided to offer to share it
in a public forum, for heritage and in tribute
to her father.

I often retrieve it for faith and example
and pride in my most valued possession
no-one could place a price on.

As I’ve matured, and known
some mourning closer-to-home
by now, I find the miracle of
this man’s altruism, and strength
has become its own story after the story
even more to me
that after all he’d witnessed, suffered and lost
(all his immediate family and more)
he could rise above his grief so valiantly
and see the worth in taking time to
answer another young girl’s personal
and idealistic expression
though she was a stranger
of a different faith, and such easier history
than his daughter
I did play Anne once in university
but mostly just in my own mirror at home
the selected pages of recitation
still known off-by-heart.

Though sadly her father’s gone now
from the world at large, as well
as a parent, a writer, a world citizen
I often lean on this precious gift
I keep from him -
the gift of his own example.


Posted on 07/10/2005
Copyright © 2021 Maureen Glaude

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 07/13/05 at 01:48 AM

A most valued possession indeed! This poem indicates you still have the deep appreciation and excitement of hearing from Mr. Frank, who certainly Showed great courage and devotion to his daughter.

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